Positivity Practice #1: Joy

Following up from my recent post “Positivity is in the House,” I’m excited to kick off ten weeks of positivity practice based on Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s book Positivity: Top Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life.

Each week we are going to learn ways to “broaden and build” upon positive emotions, Dr. Fredrickson’s bedrock philosophy. However, she cautions that positive emotions can be fragile and fleeting, so it’s important not to over analyze them. The most important thing is to be open to them and to savor them.

Joy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

Synonyms: jubilation, rejoicing, gladness, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, elation, radiance, gratification, felicity, cloud nine, seventh heaven, joie de vivre.

The Double-Sided Joy Coin

Greeting from Amity, Oregon. I’m on vacation from the hustle and bustle of New York City and sitting on the porch of my cousin’s overlooking the vineyards of the Willamette Valley. This is bringing me great joy and I’ll get back to that in a moment.

For me, joy comes in two forms; unexpected joy and the joy we create on purpose. They are two sides of the joy coin. I just had a moment of unexpected joy when my amazing cousin Susan, knowing I was coming to visit, presented me with a book she ordered from the library called The New Milks (a non-dairy focused cookbook, since I am allergic to regular milk).  I was full of glee. How considerate! How fun! How fitting! This is what I mean by unexpected joy.

So why is this important? Because we never know when these little joys will pop up into our life. Unexpected joys can be the catalyst to instantly change our mood. They can remind us not to take ourselves to seriously. They can connect us more deeply to each other. And I’m not talking about just being on the receiving end. How about creating some unexpected joy for someone else? You’ll get as much (if not more) of a dose of those feel-good chemicals as will your recipient.

Next is the joy we can create on purpose and that gets me back to my vacation. I was here two years ago so I knew fairly well what to expect; great hospitality, conversation-filled dinners, beautiful views, and really relaxing days running into each other.  It’s a curated joy experience. This brings me to “breathe” the third tenet of the bend burn breathe (b3) philosophy: do the things that you love to do. Create your joy on purpose. Big or small.

Here’s what you can do this week:

  1. Type a memo on your phone or jot down any unexpected joys that happen during the week at the end of each day as a reminder to savor the experience.
  2. At least once this week, create some unexpected joy for someone else. It can be a phone call to a friend or family member you haven’t been in touch with for a while, or creating a playlist of your spouses favorite songs (no matter how much you may or may not like their taste!). Remember, it can be a small gesture.
  3. Plan at least one activity that brings you great joy. Big or small, long or short. If it brings you joy, do it!

Please share your experiences with me! Stay tuned for week two of our positivity journey: gratitude.

2 thoughts on “Positivity Practice #1: Joy

  1. Glad you are experiencing joy on your vacation. I stopped for lunch at a favorite spot in Phoenix after a difficult meeting yesterday and along side my sandwich was a slice of watermelon. When I picked up the slice of watermelon a heart dropped out ❤️. The chef had outlined a heart in the slice of watermelon so when it was lifted off the plate a heart dropped out. An unexpected joy – a way to share love and peace in a simple way. It struck my heart and created joy in that moment and afterwards.

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